MonthAugust 2009

Old American Dams Quietly Become a Multibillion-Dollar Threat

Last week, a Siberian hydroelectric dam failed when an explosion rocked the site’s turbine room, killing dozens and taking 6,000 megawatts of electricity offline.

While the tragedy’s ultimate causes are unclear, Russian media has been questioning the state of the aging Soviet-made infrastructure. Dams are getting older in the United States, too. The average age of America’s 80,000 dams is 51 years. More than 2,000 dams near population centers are in need of repair, according to statistics released this month by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.

Last year, 140 dams were fixed, but inspectors discovered 368 more that need help. That’s why the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our dams a grade of “D” in its 2009 report on the nation’s infrastructure. There are just too many aging dams and too few safety inspectors.

Wired: Old American Dams Quietly Become a Multibillion-Dollar Threat

The president is a prisoner of the cult of neoliberalism

Beginning in the Carter years, the Democrats later called neoliberals supported the deregulation of infrastructure industries that the New Deal had regulated, like airlines, trucking and electricity, a sector in which deregulation resulted in California blackouts and the Enron scandal. Neoliberals teamed up with conservatives to persuade Bill Clinton to go along with the Republican Congress’s dismantling of New Deal-era financial regulations, a move that contributed to the cancerous growth of Wall Street and the resulting global economic collapse. As Asian mercantilist nations like Japan and then China rigged their domestic markets while enjoying free access to the U.S. market, neoliberal Democrats either turned a blind eye to the foreign mercantilist assault on American manufacturing or claimed that it marked the beneficial transition from an industrial economy to a “knowledge economy.” While Congress allowed inflation to slash the minimum wage and while corporations smashed unions, neoliberals chattered about sending everybody to college so they could work in the high-wage “knowledge jobs” of the future. Finally, many (not all) neoliberals agreed with conservatives that entitlements like Social Security were too expensive, and that it was more efficient to cut benefits for the middle class in order to expand benefits for the very poor. […]

Instead of the updated Rooseveltonomics that America needs, Obama’s team offers warmed-over Rubinomics from the 1990s. Consider the priorities of the Obama administration: the environment, healthcare and education. Why these priorities, as opposed to others, like employment, high wages and manufacturing? The answer is that these three goals co-opt the activist left while fitting neatly into a neoliberal narrative that could as easily have been told in 1999 as in 2009. The story is this: New Dealers and Keynesians are wrong to think that industrial capitalism is permanently and inherently prone to self-destruction, if left to itself. Except in hundred-year disasters, the market economy is basically sound and self-correcting. Government can, however, help the market indirectly, by providing these three public goods, which, thanks to “market failures,” the private sector will not provide.

Salon: Can Obama be deprogrammed?

(via Disinfo)

Seven Points on the CIA Report

The worst is yet to come. Yesterday the CIA released a fresh copy of the report with roughly half of the “case study” discussion now unmasked. But context and placement suggest that the material that remains concealed contains some of the worst discussion of abuse in the report. The heavy redactions start around page 25, and the redactions cover discussion of the origins of the program and the approval process, as well as the discussion of specific prisoners, notably Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. Although cases in which the guidelines provided by the Justice Department were exceeded have been discussed, it’s likely the case that the still blacked-out passages cover instances where Justice gave a green light but the conduct was so gruesome that CIA wants to keep it under wraps. That means we haven’t heard the last of the Helgerson report, and further disclosures are likely.

Harper’s: Seven Points on the CIA Report

(via Jorn Barger)

What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report




Specifically the report describes the following treatment of detainees:

(a) threatening to blow their brains out, torture them with drills, rape their mothers, and murder their children; (b) choking them until they pass out; (c) pouring water down their throats to drown them; (d) hanging them by their arms until their shoulders are dislocated; (e) blowing smoke in their face until they vomit; (f) putting them in diapers, dousing them with cold water, and leaving them on a concrete floor to induce hypothermia; and (g) beating them with the butt of a rifle — all things that we have always condemend as “torture” and which our laws explicitly criminalize as felonies.

Glenn Greenwald: What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report

(via Johnny Brainwash)

Vintage Japanese graphic design

new face

(Toru Kogure (photographer), Takashi Tanabe (designer), ‘New Face’ editorial for Fashion News, early 80s)

give us back man

(Tsunehisa Kimura, 1968, commercial and industrial photography)

More Pics: A Journey Around My Skull

Study: women prefer men who already have partners

A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that single women are much keener on pursuing a man who’s already taken than a singleton. […]

The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase.

New Scientist: It’s true: all the taken men are best

(Via Paul via Bill)

Abusing Women and Islam

July, hot and usually slow for many of us, was a month of humiliation and pain for 164 Muslim women sentenced to a public flogging for “crimes” as varied and absurd as wearing trousers in public to having sex outside of marriage in countries as far afield as the Maldives, Sudan and Malaysia,

The most famous of those 164 is Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese journalist who was among 13 women arrested by police at a Khartoum café on July 3 and charged with violating the country’s “decency laws” by wearing trousers.

Ten of those women accepted a fine and flogging but Ms. Hussein and two others contested the charges, which they’re now fighting in court. The Sudanese regime barred her from traveling to Lebanon earlier this week to give a television interview on her trial, which resumes on Sept. 7. […]

One hundred and sixty-four women were sentenced to flogging in July alone. Where is the outrage?

New York Times: Abusing Women and Islam

(Via Paul via Bill)

Fewer Americans believe in one true religion

Americans are no longer buying it. According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life”—including 37 percent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone. Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside church is growing. Thirty percent of Americans call themselves “spiritual, not religious,” according to a 2009 NEWSWEEK Poll, up from 24 percent in 2005. Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity for “the divine-deli-cafeteria religion” as “very much in the spirit of Hinduism. You’re not picking and choosing from different religions, because they’re all the same,” he says. “It isn’t about orthodoxy. It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too.”

Newsweek: We Are All Hindus Now)

(Via Paul via Bill)

Taser porn on The Learning Channel

tlc police women taser time ad

I haven’t watched this trailer yet, but Balko notes that it includes the line “There’s always a good time to use a Taser.”

Image and Trailer via The Agitator

If you find torture porn on family programming disgusting, please contact Discovery Viewer Relations or write via snail mail to:

Discovery Communications
1 Discovery Place
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Or tweet @tlc_pr

Calley Apologizes for 1968 My Lai Massacre

Over forty-one years after the My Lai Massacre, when US troops killed more than 500 men, women and children in Vietnam, the former Army lieutenant who was convicted for his role in the killings has publicly apologized. William Calley was the only US soldier held legally responsible for the slayings. He was convicted on twenty-two counts of murder, and his sentence was later commuted by President Reagan. Last week, William Calley publicly apologized for the first time, saying, “There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai.” He added that he had been following orders.

Seymour Hersh describing the My Lai Massacre and the role of the former Army lieutenant William Calley:

In any case, one mother tucked a child, a two- or three-year-old boy, under her stomach, and somehow he survived all the bullets. And they heard a keening noise, the soldiers told me. And this little boy climbed his way up through the ditch full of other people’s blood, got to the top and began to run across the—you know, just to run away. And Lieutenant Calley turned to Meadlo, his most dependable shooter—others had stopped at a certain point or shot high—and said, “Meadlo, plug him.” And Meadlo looked at one person and couldn’t do it. And Calley then, with a great—you know, very saucy-like—grabbed his carbine—officers had a smaller rifle called a carbine—ran behind him and shot him.

Everybody remembered that, because the next morning, Meadlo was walking on patrol with the soldiers—they moved on to a few clicks away, a mile or so away, and began to patrol again, as they always did—just another day’s work, I guess. I don’t know. And he stepped on a land mine—Meadlo did—and blew his right leg off at the knee. And when the medevac was coming—they called in a chopper to take him away—he began to issue an oath: “God has punished me, Lieutenant Calley, and God will punish you. God has punished me.” And the kids, in telling me about this a year and a half later, all remembered how angry they were. “Get him out of here! Get him out of here!” They didn’t want to hear this.

Democracy Now: Calley Apologizes for 1968 My Lai Massacre

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